Rep. Liz Cheney called the situation in Afghanistan ‘catastrophic’ on Monday because it could breed the same terrorist threat to the US the country presented 20 years ago when it became the staging ground for 9/11.
‘What concerns me most going forward from a national security perspective is the extent to which Al Qaeda, ISIS, other terrorist organizations now have an entire country that the Taliban controls,’ the Wyoming Republican said on CBS This Morning.
Cheney – who’s father, Vice President Dick Cheney, helped the U.S. launch the Afghanistan war – ultimately blamed Democratic President Joe Biden for the mess, but pointed a finger at former President Donald Trump, a Republican, too.
Rep. Liz Cheney called the situation in Afghanistan ‘catastrophic’ because it could breed the same terrorist threat the country presented 20 years ago when it became the staging ground for 9/11
She told Gayle King she thought two things happened that created the current crisis.
First, she argued, was that the Trump administration negotiated a ‘surrender agreement.’
‘It was a document that had a date certain for our withdrawal, it released – it committed to prisoner releases – and we were old told, the American people were told, that the Taliban was going to renounce Al Qaeda, of course that didn’t happen,’ Cheney said.
She said that when the Trump administration dealt directly with the Taliban it ‘delegitimized’ the Afghan government.
On Sunday, President Ashraf Ghani fled the country as the Taliban entered Kabul.
She said the Trump administration negotiated with a ‘terrorist organization’ by talking to the Taliban, and said those talked ‘strengthened’ the group.
A US soldier points his gun towards and bellows at an Afghan civilian at the Kabul airport on Monday. Two armed Afghans have been killed by American troops at the airport
An Afghan family rushes to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they flee the Afghan capital of Kabul on Monday
Taliban fighters are seen on the back of a vehicle in Kabul on Monday. Cheney criticized the Trump administration for strengthening the Taliban by negotiating a ‘surrender agreement’ with them
‘We were going to invite the Taliban to Camp David, Secretary Pompeo met with the Taliban, first U.S. secretary of State to do that,’ she recalled.
Cheney then indicated that Biden, however, should get the bulk of the blame.
‘But ultimately this decision to completely and totally withdraw is Joe Biden’s – and it is one that is disgraceful,’ Cheney said.
Cheney didn’t answer directly when asked if she believed the U.S. should have a permanent presence in Afghanistan.
Instead, she argued that there should be some forces on the ground to ‘prevent the establishment of safe-havens’ and suggested the 2,500 to 3,500 Americans who had remained in the country prior to the final withdraw were enough to do the job.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken argued that the American forces that remained wouldn’t have been able to hold off the Taliban.
A volunteer carries an injured man as other people can be seen waiting at the Kabul airport on Monday
‘It’s true that the enemy gets a choice, but they were holding them back,’ Cheney argued.
‘Again, we had this agreement that was signed in the Trump administration that began this process of helping to strengthen the Taliban,’ Cheney also offered.
She’s been publicly critical of the former GOP president – so much that she lost her No. 3 House leadership position over anti-Trump statements.
Cheney argued that having U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the past 20 years did accomplish something.
‘All of the men and the women who have been deployed to Afghanistan over the last 20 years helped ensure that we didn’t have further any mass casualty attacks from Afghan territory,’ she said.
‘So their service was really, crucially important for our security and I also think we need to go forward, all of us, who are elected officials, committing ourselves that we’re going to conduct ourselves in a way that is worthy of our sacrifices,’ she added.
President Joe Biden meets virtually with national security advisers from Camp David where he’s currently on August vacation